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The General Synod, at least within the Church of England is the governing assembly of that church.

A brief history of the governance of the Church of England

The pre-reformation Church of England was run by the bishops and senior clergy in legislative assemblies called the Convocations of Canterbury and York. After the Reformation, successive sovereigns and later Parliament took a large measure of this power into their own hands.

Only from 1920 was the Church of England granted a degree of autonomy when the Convocations were effectively re-established to deal with spiritual matters like doctrine, theology and liturgy, whilst a Church Assembly, made up of the Convocations plus a House of Laity, was created to deal with the Church's more secular and financial business.

In 1970 the powers of the Convocations and the Church Assembly were united together in one body, the General Synod often referred to as the national assembly of the General Synod.

The Structure of the General Synod

It is made up of 574 members elected every five years and split between the following three houses

The General Synod normally meets twice a year; once every July at York University and once every November at Church House in London.

The Functions of the General Synod

The primary function of the General Synod is to set the rules and regulations of the Church, which encompasses everything from setting the scale of fees that apply to weddings to deciding on the question of the ordination of women.

It has powers delegated to it by Parliament to prepare legislation regarding any matter pertaining to the Church of England. (Although Parliament still retains the right to veto any such proposed legislation, and the Royal Assent is required before it becomes law.

Its secondary function is to deal with matters of relations with other Churches, but it also concerns itself with political issues such as they relate to the physical and spiritual wellbeing of its flock and issues weighty pronouncements on its deliberations. No one, least of all the British government, takes a blind bit of notice of course.

Sourced from the leaflet The General Synod, produced by the the Church of England Communications Unit.

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